The unusual, high-level campaigning to sway President Obama’s choice for a new FCC chairman just intensified with the release of a letter from an odd-bedfellow collection of advocates in support of Core Capital Partners Managing Director Tom Wheeler. “We know Tom well,” says the letter signed by 11 policy specialists including Susan Crawford, a former Obama policy adviser who recently wrote a book highly critical of Comcast, and Decker Anstrom, a former member of the Comcast board. “We have seen up close his strength of will. He will have an open mind and an intelligent take on the challenges that will confront the new Chairman.” The letter would have seemed like overkill a few weeks ago: Wheeler — who ran Obama’s transition effort for science, technology, space and arts agencies —seemed to have the inside track for the job as Julius Genachowski prepares to move on. But Wheeler’s prospects seemed to fade a few weeks ago when Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller launched an effort to elevate Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel — formerly the committee’s Senior Communications Counsel. Rockefeller and 36 other senators told Obama in a letter last month that Rosenworcel “understands and respects the relationship between the FCC and Congress.” Rockefeller also has been critical of Wheeler’s background running the National Cable Television Association and the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA). “A lobbyist is a lobbyist,” the senator told reporters this week. Many believe that it’s time for the FCC to have its first female chair. But if Obama promotes Rosenworcel, who joined the FCC last year, it might be seen as a slight of Commissioner Mignon Clyburn who was appointed in 2009. Others signing the pro-Wheeler letter include former Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust Phil Weiser, former U.S. Ambassador Phil Verveer, former Assistant Secretary of Commerce Larry Irving, former Media Access Project President Andy Schwartzman, and former co-leader of the Obama-Biden Transition Team on the FCC Kevin Werbach.
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